02 January 2014

Resolutions

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions. Mostly I think if you were going to do it, you would have already. But I can't deny that the start of the new year does still raise up in me a desire to do better, start again, and give myself a clean slate.

Cobo's Closet grew a lot this year. A large part of that was my decision to focus on designing and selling original crochet patterns instead of selling ready-to-ship items. It's a direction that allows me a lot of freedom, and has been a lot of fun. I took a few minutes this afternoon to go back into my stats and shop history to get a sense of where Cobo's Closet has come this year.



I filled close to 190 orders this year, up from 81 filled in 2012. Pretty cool, right? I'd love for 2014 to be even better as I dedicate more time to designing new patterns and really exploring my love for crochet. As much as I dabble in knitting and knooking and just about any other fiber art I hear about, my heart always comes back to crochet. There is something so utterly soothing about it for me.



My sister-in-law did a very cool thing on her blog, where she listed 30 things she'd like to accomplish this year that she turns 30. I like that better than a list of vague resolutions, and started thinking up some of what my goals may be for the year as well. Since this year I'll turn 25, I've come up with 25 things I'd like to accomplish this year:

  • Redesign of Cobo's Closet - merge the website, etsy, Facebook page, Ravelry, blog, etc. into one central location.
  • Design 6 new crochet patterns. 
  • Finish my Christmas gifts... from 2013...
  • Take and pass my A+ Certification exam.
  • Begin studying for either Net+ or Sec+.
  • Date nights with the hubby more often.
  • Finish our granny square 'family blanket'.
  • Make a lapghan sized corner to corner throw.
  • Make a lapghan sized granny square throw.
  • Blog more often and post pictures of my work as I finish it.
  • Better photo practices - figure out a specific setup for photos and be consistent with it.
  • Make a crochet quilt. 
  • Have a booth at a local craft fair.
  • Make crochet throw pillows.
  • Network more with other crafters.
  • Complete a graphgan.
  • Study/Read the bible daily.
  • Attend Financial Peace University.
  • Pray for my husband everyday. 
  • Pay off the car.
  • Learn to quilt.
  • Learn at least 5 new stitches.
  • Try at least one new recipe per month.
  • Read at least 50 books.
  • Catch up on reviews for the book blog and have a consistent review schedule.


I've also learned something about myself recently. Or rather, just really noticed a pattern in my life. I let things pile up. And then I get overwhelmed by them and feel defeated. My laundry, attendance sheets, the dishes in my sink, my crochet projects, the paperwork on my desk, emails in my inbox, to-do list items, and the list goes on. I've always been a natural procrastinator, but I'm only now realizing how much stress I'm actually creating for myself by letting things pile up around me. This year I'm going to work on that. On not letting things and tasks pile up around me, and instead to be intentional about staying on top of things while they are still small.

I actually feel quite good about these goals - and having them in writing like this will give me a great sense of success when I get to come back and check these off the list as I accomplish them. :)

What are you all planning for the new year?


31 October 2013

Considering Knitting

I can't remember which I learned first: knitting or crochet. I've always known the basics of both, but once I learned how to crochet in the round, that interest exploded. Hats, clothes, dog sweaters... I felt like I could make anything I wanted. And my knitting skills stalled at that, "Uh, I can make a scarf." stage.

But about once a year, I think to myself, "I miss knitting. I could go for a scarf." and I pick up my knitting needles, get about 3 rows done, and then throw them back down, frustrated with having to juggle two needles and feel like Edward Scissorhands in the process.

Besides, for crochet, you just find a hook you like and go nuts. It's a different story with knitting. Want to try cables? Go buy a cable needle. Want to make a hat? Go buy a 16" circular needle. Want to make a sweater? Go buy a larger size circular needle. Socks? Find some double pointed needles. It felt like I was really constrained by my lack of knitting 'supplies'.

Then I heard about knooking. It's knitting with a crochet hook. You need a special crochet hook with a cable attached in order to hold the "live" stitches. This sounded like exactly my kind of thing! I got to it as soon as I could.


 Pretty awesome, right?! I realize the purl stitches are wrong, but that's just because I take a shortcut when I do them, otherwise they're just too plain awkward and fumbly. I decided, hey, let's try some ribbing and then I can start my first knitted hat! Then this happened:


See the problem? I had basically no stitch definition. I don't know if this was user error or what - but no matter what ribbing pattern I tried, I was just getting a flat piece like this one. Problem is, at this point, I'd been pouring over knitting patterns that I wanted to try with my knook for days. Knowing that I couldn't pull off the look that I really wanted - I started looking into circular knitting needles. I found a local yarn shop and decided I'd go there and find out what they had, and what they thought the best option for me would be. Then I came home with this: My Knitter's Pride Dreamz 16" size 7 circular needle.


And I'm in love. It's still not relaxing like crochet is for me - I can't do it mindlessly or without looking the way I can crochet, but something about the clicking of those wooden knitting needles is really addicting. I've got a long way to go technique-wise, but I did manage to cast on something last night:

 In theory, it'll be a hat with a ribbed edge and stockinette cap. I'm not really following a pattern or anything, just sort of using this as a test swatch on the circular needles while I get used to the different tension needs and stitches used for knitting.

Final verdict? I'm in love with crochet. But I might be about to fall in love with knitting just a little bit too.





20 October 2013

Blanket Fever

I've been on a blanket-making binge lately. Maybe it's just because the nights are starting to get colder and colder around here. Which just bums me out. But alas, crochet items do come much more in handy around this time of year. I'm already thinking up wrist warmers and possibly a car wheel cover for those cold mornings when you can barely hold the wheel.

When my husband and I had been married about a year or so, I decided to start my first crochet blanket. I only knew how to do single crochet in a straight line - and felt like making a blanket. In time, as I learned new stitches and techniques, I actually quite grew to hate this blanket. The stitches were uneven, there was a different number of rows in each color stripe, and halfway through it, I changed hook sizes. It's kind of a disaster. Unfortunately, my husband really loved it. So I've felt bad ever since for not wanting to finish it. So - now that I've got a few more skills under my crochet belt, I decided to start another:


I wanted to make a ripple blanket, and got started right away. But then... a friend of mine had a baby girl, and I made her totally cute granny square baby blanket: 



I loved making this one a little bit too much, because I ended up frogging my ripple blanket and deciding I wanted our 'family blanket' to also be a nice big granny square like this one. And so this was born: 


There was two issues with this generation of the blanket - first, those little granny holes are chihuahua-nail traps. No sooner would I get a row finished than a chihuahua would walk by and squeal cause their toes were getting stuck in all the holes. Second - my hubby and I agreed that the royal blue just really wasn't meshing well with the baby and navy blues, so I decided to frog this one as well. 

I started again, still with a granny square-like design, but without the traditional 'granny' holes: 


This is the current state of the blanket. I'm nearing the half-way point as far as size goes, and I'm still in love with it, so I'm thinking I may have FINALLY reached a blanket that I have a chance of actually finishing! Though I'll admit, I've already got a few ideas pinned for other blanket patterns I'd like to tackle... 










07 May 2013

Crochet How-To: Single Crochet Stitch


I've had a couple people say to me "you have to teach me how to crochet!" and I always answer with, "I totally will!" ... and then never do. Part of this is just because it doesn't come naturally to me to sit down with someone and try to teach them. It's not how I learned, and so I'm not entirely sure how to teach it. I taught myself crochet by reading lots of craft blogs, watching videos online, and endlessly tearing out stitches that didn't look right. And in all this, there's something I've come to realize about crochet: If you can master the single crochet stitch - you're pretty much good to go. It's sort of the same idea as knowing how to do the knit stitch in knitting. It's not all there is to know, but once you've got it down, you're already well on your way to being able to make some great stuff!

Today I'm going to do a tutorial of something I wish I had found when I very first began crocheting: a photo guide on the Single Crochet (sc) stitch.

If you're looking through books or patterns, single crochet will most likely be described as something along the lines of: "place hook through V, yarn over, pull through, yarn over, pull through 2 loops". I'll go through each of these steps with pictures. (I always learn better with pictures!)



Step 1. Place hook through V. Wondering what the heck that means? It's this:
When looking at the top of a sc stitch, it creates a sort of sideways V (assuming you've already gotten your chain row down). So you just want to put your hook directly under that sideways V. 




Step 2. Yarn over. This literally means, put your yarn over your hook. Like this:




Step 3: Pull through. Grab your yarn you've just pulled over your hook, and pull it under the V. This will give you 2 loops on your hook. 



Steps 4 and 5: Yarn over. Same stuff as Step 2 - just place your yarn over the hook. Easy peasy. Pull through 2 loops. Just grab your newly 'yarned over' yarn and pull it through both loops on your hook. 



Step 6: Get addicted to crochet. There you go, you've completed a sc stitch. You can now make a scarf, blanket, pot-holder, hankerchief - really anything that is just stitched flat can be made with single crochet stitches. 

Random tips & tricks when beginning crochet: Try not to pull stuff too tight, or leave anything too loose. This is called the 'tension' of the stitch, and it's really something you learn by trial and error. If all your work is bunching up or you can hardly fit your hook under your stitches, you're crocheting too tightly - try letting the yarn have a little more give when working your stitches.

If you really wanna go nuts and start making hats/amigurumi/dog sweaters/pretty much anything in the world - the next thing you'll want to conquer is crocheting in the round. Good luck and have fun!!

11 April 2013

Week 2: Crochet Progress

Alright, so, not so much on the great crochet progress to show you this week. It was the week following Easter, and as I work at a church, it's a pretty crazy time for me and the week totally flew by. I also got an order in from the UK (my first international order, woo!), so I spent some time working those up. Aren't they cute? It's a matching set for bro/sis chihuahuas who have been invited to a wedding in June. Too funny!



As far as Artisan's Market progress... I did finish the tuxedo I was working on last week. And I love the colors in it, especially the little pink bow tie - gets me every time.



And that's all that I have to show you this week! On a normal week, it'd be pretty good - problem is that time is ticking down and I still have so much to do! I've asked my husband to hold me to my new personal rule: "If I'm sitting down, I should be crocheting". We'll see how that goes!

Oh, and also - Happy Late Easter from the little ones!






01 April 2013

Week 1: Crochet Progress

Well, it's been almost a week now since I've challenged myself to crochet every day. And I've been able to keep that challenge up so far! I now have 3 finished dresses and a half-finished tuxedo! Here's what I worked on this week:



Can you tell I've got lots of yarn in these colors?


I think this summer fun dress was my favorite for the week, I love the way the yarn looks and the little belts make such cute accents :) 

And of course, Chloe helped me start the tuxedo too: 


Overall I had a pretty good crochet week :) I just gotta keep it up now!





28 March 2013

My 30 Day Challenge!

Okay, so it's not exactly a 30 day challenge, it's more like a 43 Day Challenge, but that just doesn't make as catchy of a title. I've got 43 days before the Artisan Market in Stilwell where I need to have a pretty decent amount of inventory ready to sell. I'd really like to have at least 30 items ready to go. Since it takes me about a day and a half to make a dog dress... the math on that one doesn't completely add up - hence why this is going to be a challenge!

In April, I'm challenging myself to crochet every single day. No matter what! I'll try to check in every few days here with my progress of what I've managed to finish to help keep me accountable to this!



Here's what I'm working on finishing up now - an XXS Littlest Bo Peep dog dress in pink and cream. I really like making these since they work up so quickly with the V-stitch's open weave. I should be able to finish this today and start another dress as well. Or maybe a tuxedo for the little misters that need clothes too!

Wish me luck! :)